AFP urges Facebook to take down 63 accounts belonging to Maute group & sympathizers


By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent

At least 63 Facebook accounts belonging to terrorists and their supporters were discovered by the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ social media monitoring team when it urged Facebook Philippines to take them down.

Marawi City military spokesman Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera said these accounts were utilized by the Maute local terrorist group and their sympathizers. He also said the military headquarters in Manila has already coordinated with Facebook in the Philippines.

These Facebook accounts, Herrera said, are spreading malicious operations that affect the information landscape and the mindset of every Filipino.

“We are requesting Facebook Philippines to take down these accounts. They are spreading lies and misinformation. They are creating more problems in our fight against local terrorist groups,” stressed Herrera.

Although some of the accounts have been reported to Facebook, Herrera said monitoring by the military continues to show more suspicious accounts.

“It is obvious that the Facebook accounts are using fake names to hide their real identities,” said Herrera.

Herrera appealed to netizens to be conscious of how local terrorists groups have been using social media to misinform the public. “These Facebook accounts have twisted the truth and twisted the real situation,” he added.

The military has lamented how quickly ISIS propaganda videos spread online. One video, for example, shows the terrorists hitting army tanks with rocket-propelled grenades.

Herrera admitted the Army lost control of the tanks but it doesn’t mean that the military is losing the war, he added. On the contrary, Herrera said the military continues to “gain more foothold” in the battlefield.

ISIS has made extensive use of social media to strike fear and spread their ideology, and analysts have said many of their followers were radicalized by reading and listening to online propaganda material.

Herrera also cited a video of the terrorists smashing statues at a Catholic church in Marawi City as among those the terrorists’ propaganda online.

“We want to provide a service where people feel safe. That’s why we have community standards that explain what you can and cannot do on our service,” the Facebook statement said.

“Our community standards do not allow groups or people that engage in terrorist activity, or posts that express support for terrorism. Fake accounts are also prohibited.”

“We will remove accounts and content that violate these policies when we are made aware of them,” it added.

“We have well established law enforcement channels for governments to contact us about emergencies and content that violates our community standards,” said Facebook.

“Online extremism can only be tackled with strong partnerships. We have long collaborated with policymakers, civil society, and others in the tech industry, and we are committed to continuing this important work together,” it added.